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Members of Congress comment on Trump's budget proposal


March 15, 2019

Jon tester

Monday, President Donald Trump submitted to Congress a $4.75 trillion budget plan, "A Budget for a Better America," which is said to increase military spending while creating large, aggressive cuts to domestic programs for the 2020 fiscal year.

"I'm concerned about the president's proposed cuts to Medicare, Social Security, our national parks, the USDA and programs that support our public lands," U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Wednesday. "Budgets reflect priorities and slashing funding for successful programs that make up the beating heart of Montana shows just how out of touch this administration is with rural America."

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., said Monday that Trump's budget is only a proposal for what the president wants in the 2020 budget, adding that Congress determines the funding for programs.

"The budget released today by President Trump is merely a blueprint," Daines said. "... The president is right to focus on excessive spending as the core driver of the debt crisis. As a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, I will fight to cut wasteful spending while ensuring Montana priorities receive sufficient support."

Both Daines and Tester are members of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte's, R-Mont., also noted Trump's budget is only a request.

"The president submitted his budget requests to Congress, and Congress will decide how much to spend and where," Gianforte said. "I'll remain focused on putting Montana first, reining in out-of-control spending, and balancing the budget."

Tester Deputy Communication Director Dave Kuntz answered several questions the Havre Daily News provided to the members of Montana's congressional delegation.

The Havre Daily had not received specific answers to the questions from the offices of Daines and Gianforte by print deadline this morning.

"During his time in Congress, serving under two presidents, the senator has seen many presidential budgets," Julia Doyle, press secretary for Daines, said Thursday. "Just the same as with other presidents and budgets before, this budget is merely a blueprint. The role of appropriating money lies with Congress."

Kuntz said Tester does not support the president's proposed budget because it makes dangerous budget cuts for families on the Hi-Line.

"If this budget is enacted, retired Montanans living on a fixed income could see cuts to Social Security and Medicare," the email said. "Local farmers and ranchers will see cuts to crop insurance, and Montana taxpayers could be forced to foot the bill for essential services."

The greatest benefit to Trump's proposal is that it invests in veteran suicide prevention, it said.

The biggest shortfall of the proposal is that it makes cuts to Social Security and Medicare, "breaking a promise President Trump made when he campaigned."

Tester Deputy Communications Director Dave Kuntz said the senator has fought hard as a member of the Appropriations Committee to secure funding to rebuild the military, but Trump's emergency declaration robs money from the defense department to build a wall on the southern border.

"Jon strongly believes that we can strengthen our military without cutting Social Security, Medicare or funding for USDA," he said. "... It also cuts funding for many important priorities on the Hi-Line including the Land and Water Conservation Fund."

Trump's proposal also included $8.6 billion for the southern border wall.

Steve Daines

Kuntz said Tester recently authored legislation to better-secure the border by hiring more Custom and Border Protection agents and increasing the technology available to Border Patrol agents. He added that Tester believes $8 billion for a border wall does not strengthen the border security, only weakens the country's ability to actively invest in the military.

"Jon will fight the provisions in the president's budget because it cuts Social Security and Medicare, cuts resources for family farmers and ranchers, and hurts our public lands," it said.

Trump's budget proposal "A Budget for a Better America" can be found at https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/budget-fy2020.pdf/.


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